Dozens of eligible underclassmen have or will announce in the coming weeks that they are leaving early for the NFL, with each carrying various degrees of impact on their respective team’s prospects for the 2013 season.
This one will likely have as big of an impact as any other.
Largely overlooked and undervalued outside of Chapel Hill specifically and the ACC in general over the past two seasons, Giovani Bernard announced that he has decided to leave North Carolina and enter the 2013 NFL draft. The running back, who likely would’ve been included in the preseason Heisman mix, is foregoing his final two years of eligibility to make the leap.
A press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. ET today for Bernard to discuss the decision.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my three years in Chapel Hill and coming to UNC was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Bernard in a statement released ahead of the press conference. “I feel like the best decision for my future is to enter the NFL draft this year. I want to thank Coach Fedora, this coaching staff and the previous coaching staff for putting me in a position to succeed. I am on track to graduate and I plan on coming back to earn my degree in the Spring of 2014.”
A torn ACL suffered during summer camp cost Bernard all of his true freshman season in 2010, but the redshirt sophomore came back to earn All-ACC first-team honors the past two seasons. He led the conference in rushing, scoring and all-purpose yardage in 2012, and led the nation in punt returns average (16.4 yards per).
He accomplished all of that this season despite missing two games with a left knee issue.
“Gio is a special player and an even better person,” said UNC head coach Larry Fedora. “He flourished in our offense and was an outstanding leader for our program. After the season was over, we helped him gather as much information as possible so he and his family could make the best decision for his future. We support his decision and wish him nothing but success as he takes the next step in his football career. He is a tremendous ambassador for this program.”
Depending on which direction other players at his position take before the mid-January deadline, the 5-10, 205-pound Bernard could be the first running back selected in the upcoming draft.
A former member of the Miami Hurricanes football program — and the son of a U legend — is facing some rather significant allegations at his current football home.
WMBF-TV in Conway, SC, is reporting that an arrest warrant was issued for Coastal Carolina cornerback Ray Lewis III in connection to claims that he had sexually assaulted two women. The FCS player turned himself into authorities earlier Friday and was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The alleged incidents that led to the charges occurred in January. From the television station’s report:
On Saturday, January 23, Conway Police officer responded to a local hospital, where the victims told police they were sexually assaulted at an apartment in the 2200 block of Technology Drive, according to a news release from the police department. Detectives were called to the hospital to take over the investigation.
Medical reports, victim statements, witness statements, and lab statements were presented to the solicitor’s office, and warrants were obtained for 20-year-old Ray Lewis III.
The arrest warrant alleges that Lewis did engage in sexual battery with an 18-year-old female with the knowledge that the victim was incapacitated and/or physically helpless from the use of drugs and/or alcohol.
The 20-year-old Lewis, the son of UM Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, spent two seasons at his father’s alma mater without ever playing a down before transferring to Coastal Carolina in January of 2015. In 2015 as a redshirt sophomore, the younger Lewis played in 12 games for the Chanticleers.
Suffice to say, he has been indefinitely suspended from the football team.
Coastal Carolina, incidentally, will be making the move from the FCS to the FBS level for the 2017 season. It was announced in September of last year that the Chanticleers will join the Sun Belt Conference for football beginning that season.
Back in January, Travonte Valentine was hoping Les Miles would give him another shot at a playing career at LSU. Specifically, Valentine was hoping that he’d get another shot at being a Tiger in 2017.
Not only does it appear Miles is ready to welcome the defensive lineman back, but that welcome could come a year earlier than expected. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Currently enrolled at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Valentine was expected to become a 2017 prospect, but NCAA rules may allow him to suit up for LSU in 2016, according to numerous sources with knowledge of Valentine’s academic situation.
Valentine and other sources have confirmed that LSU has checked with its compliance department about what it would take for him to enroll this fall. Valentine, who is currently in good academic standing, has to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA, while completing the required number of course hours to qualify. The Tigers are taking a conservative approach to the situation, given the history between both parties, but multiple sources said the program is open to the idea if Valentine maintains his current course, and compliance decides that the transfer would meet NCAA guidelines.
Should Valentine ultimately return to Baton Rouge, it’d be the continuation of a lengthy — and bumpy — odyssey.
After signing with the Tigers in February of 2014, Valentine dealt with NCAA Clearinghouse issues — the player said another SEC program was the root cause — that forced him to miss the start of summer camp his true freshman season. While he was ultimately cleared to practice, he was not permitted to play in any games because of the lingering academic issues.
Then in April of last year, head coach Les Miles confirmed that Valentine had been suspended, with the specific reason being, again, academics. At the time of his departure from the program, it was reported that Valentine, in addition to the academic issues, had failed multiple drug tests.
A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, Valentine was rated as the No. 3 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Florida. He had been expected to be an immediate contributor to LSU’s line rotation.
Despite surprisingly seeing just one player selected in the first round of the NFL draft, there might not have been a happier football program than the one at Alabama. Thanks to the controversy swirling around Laremy Tunsil and his social media misadventures, the fact that a report surfacing shortly before the draft that had a Tide assistant leaving amidst potential NCAA issues had flown almost completely under the radar.
According to the report, defensive line coach Bo Davis was expected to resign or be fired after the school opened an inquiry into possible recruiting violations. In the first public comments from the school, Davis’ departure is being labeled as a resignation.
“Bo Davis has submitted his letter of resignation,” a statement attributed to head coach Nick Saban began. “We appreciate all the contributions he made to the program and wish him and his family the very best in the future.”
The specific nature of the alleged violations are unknown. The NCAA, though, has reportedly made multiple inquiries into the situation and the Tide is currently in the midst of investigating the allegations against the coach.
Davis first worked for Saban with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins before moving on to Tuscaloosa as part of Saban’s first Tide staff. He left for five years before returning to the Tide in 2014.
Not only is Davis considered one of the best line coaches in the country, he’s also a premier recruiter in a program overflowing with such personnel.
The current thought process is that Tosh Lupoi, a Tide football staffer not unfamiliar with NCAA allegations himself, could slide into Davis’ role. Lupoi had previously served as the line coach at Cal and Washington before moving on to ‘Bama in 2014.
For those who think the Trump and Clinton supporters can’t find some common ground (they can’t), take note.
In “The Great Satellite Camp Debate of 2016,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh took exception to some of the comments made by his counterpart at Georgia, Kirby Smart, saying “he is barking up the wrong tree” with the implication there is “any intent on our part to break rules.” Thursday, the NCAA put that issue to rest (for now) by rescinding a ban on satellite camps that had caused the Smart/Harbaugh sniping in the first place.
Just a few hours after the ban was lifted, it was announced that Smart’s coaching staff would be one of two featured at an Atlanta-area camp. The other? Lucifer, grab your skates.
While many will be stunned at this “dog dates cat” development, it’s not that shocking.
“That whole thing got so overblown,” Smart, per DawgNation.com, said at an event in Dallas a week ago. “Because he and I, he and staff members from his staff had communicated. That’s a big deal to the media, big deal to you guys. But in the coaching profession we’re a bit more light-hearted about it.”